UFC

UFC Fight for the Troops 3: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

James MacDonaldFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2013

UFC Fight for the Troops 3: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

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    Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

    If you’re the type who thinks that there is too much MMA on television, this week’s UFC schedule likely has you banging your head against the wall in frustration.

    The MMA week starts with UFC: Fight for the Troops 3 on Wednesday night, followed by UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson on Saturday.

    Let’s focus on the former for now, though. Fight for the Troops cards generally have all the depth of a paddling pool, but Wednesday night’s event boasts a relatively strong line-up.

    We can look forward to an intriguing scrap between Tim Kennedy and Rafael Natal, as well as Liz Carmouche vs. Alexis Davis in a fight that has title implications in the women’s 135-pound division.

    Need a little more information? Never fear, Bleacher Report’s MMA team is here to offer our thoughts on tomorrow night’s card.

    Read on for the views of Craig “Famous” Amos, Riley “Kobra” Kontek, Sean “The Salmon” Smith and me, James “The Athlete” MacDonald.

Tim Kennedy vs. Rafael Natal

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    Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    This main event couldn't be more questionable if Bob Sapp and Akebono were in it. The only reason this main event was watchable in the first place was because Lyoto Machida was in it. And while Kennedy is certainly worthwhile in a main event slot for the troops, as he is a former serviceman, Rafael Natal should be nowhere near a main event, even in Bellator. Anyways, my rant aside, Kennedy is better in pretty much every facet of the game. Seriously though, they couldn't find a better replacement than Natal?

    Kennedy, Unanimous decision

     

    James MacDonald

    OK, when I called this an “intriguing scrap” in my intro, I was perhaps overselling it a bit. Indeed, there’s a good chance this fight will challenge our wills to live, particularly if Natal is able to impose his grinding style on Kennedy. That being said, Kennedy has enough tools to keep the fight on the feet and utilise his marginally superior striking.

    Kennedy, Unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    Kennedy lost both of the five-round fights he's been in, but he was facing much stiffer competition than Natal in Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo Souza. His cardio was not to blame for either loss. The American has the conditioning and submission defense to outlast Natal in what is likely to be an exhausting grappling match.

    Kennedy, Unanimous decision

     

    Craig Amos

    So, this is the card's main event? A starless affair that looks one-sided on paper? Well, at least it's free right...? Anyway, Kennedy wins by beating Natal up on the feet and controlling him on the ground when necessary.

    Kennedy, TKO, Rd. 2

Liz Carmouche vs. Alexis Davis

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    Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    If you are a fan of ground wars, you may be in luck here. A top-heavy wrestler and former title challenger in Liz Carmouche will take on a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and rapidly improving Alexis Davis. Carmouche has shown holes in her submission defense before, but that was against high-level grapplers like Ronda Rousey and Marloes Coenen. Her pressure from the top makes those who engage on the ground quite uncomfortable. Add that Carmouche is highly underrated, and you may see the former service woman with her hand raised.

    Carmouche, Unanimous decision

     

    James MacDonald

    This should have been the main event, in my opinion. The winner of this fight could conceivably be next in line for the winner of Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate. Had you asked me to pick the outcome a few months ago, I would have said Davis without hesitation. However, her stock dropped somewhat after she barely limped past Rosi Sexton in her UFC debut. Carmouche, in contrast, has gone from strength to strength. She increasingly looks like a genuine contender for the women’s 135-pound title. Based on form, I’m giving Carmouche the slight edge.

    Carmouche, Unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    Davis has more ways to win this fight. She's the better striker and is more capable of ending the bout with a submission. That said, Carmouche's wrestling and top control is stifling. If she plays it safe on the ground, Carmouche can walk away with a second straight UFC win.

    Carmouche, Unanimous decision

     

    Craig Amos

    When the UFC's women's bantamweight division first opened, it looked like Davis would be a title contender and Carmouche roster depth. But after Davis posted a hard-won decision, and Carmouche put forth a dominant win and a near-miss against Ronda Rousey, it seems to me like the roles are somewhat reversed.

    Carmouche, Unanimous decision

Ronny Markes vs. Yoel Romero

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    Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    A chess match is afoot, as decision artist and grinder Ronny Markes takes on former Olympic wrestler and Strikeforce vet Yoel Romero. Markes relies on clinch and top game to control opponents, but he is not the most urgent when it comes to going for the finish. Romero may be hard to get to the mat and is possibly the more powerful striker on the feet. However, Markes is persistent and should be able to make this an ugly fight en route to the scorecards.

    Markes, Unanimous decision

     

    James MacDonald

    This is a tough fight to call. Both men are strong grapplers, with Romero being the more skilled wrestler and Markes boasting a more dangerous submission game. In light of that fact, this may end up being contested on the feet, where Markes should have a slight edge.

    Markes, Unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    Markes has been getting by with conservative wrestling in his first three UFC bouts. While Karlos Vemola and Aaron Simpson are solid wrestlers, Markes will be facing a whole new level of wrestler in Romero. An Olympic medalist in freestyle wrestling, Romero isn't going to be pinned against the cage wall for three rounds, and he'll make Markes pay for attempting to do so.

    Romero, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    Craig Amos

    Romero's UFC debut went about as well as one could hope for themselves, but Ronny Markes is a much different fighter than Clifford Starks, even if their surnames do rhyme. Despite his unspectacular fighting style, Markes is a legitimate prospect at 185, and he'll keep his seven-fight win streak moving in the proper direction at UFC Fight Night 31.

    Markes, Submission, Rd. 2

Jorge Masvidal vs. Rustam Khabilov

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    Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    A Fight of the Night contender may come in this fight, as both Jorge Masvidal and Rustam Khabilov always bring the fight. Khabilov is a human suplex machine (sorry Taz), as he has used his throws to hurt both Vinc Pichel and Yancy Medeiros in his UFC fights. Masvidal is a powerful striker who has improved his wrestling greatly. However, Khabilov's wrestling is far better and he is aggressive, which should lead to him throwing Masvidal around and holding him down.

    Khabilov, Unanimous decision

     

    James MacDonald

    If you’re going to pick one fight to watch tomorrow night, make it this one. Masvidal may be one of the most underrated fighters in MMA, largely because of his inconsistency and occasional lack of urgency in the big fights. Khabilov, on the other hand, has looked like a beast since debuting in the Octagon, suplexing his way up the rankings. I’m giving the Russian the nod in this one.

    Khabilov, Unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    Khabilov may be the next big thing in the lightweight division. He sure looked the part when throwing Vinc Pichel around the Octagon like a rag doll. However, manhandling Pichel and manhandling Masvidal are two very different things. Masvidal is more proven against top-notch lightweights and will provide his 27-year-old Russian opponent with a wake-up call of sorts on Wednesday. 

    Masvidal, Unanimous decision

     

    Craig Amos:

    In what could be the most competitive and exciting matchup of the evening, Masvidal and Khabilov will each attempt to take a grand step forward in the UFC's crowded 155-pound division. Neither fighter is easy to take down, and while I give the striking edge to Masvidal, what Khabilov has done in prior outings is enough to convince me he will be able to control the majority of the action. I think the Russian takes a close one.

    Khabilov, Unanimous decision

Colton Smith vs. Michael Chiesa

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    Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    What a way to start off the main card! Obvious sarcasm aside, former TUF winners Colton Smith and Michael Chiesa are set to meet in a certain "war of attrition." Chiesa is far more well-rounded and should be able to ward off the takedowns of Smith. I don't feel like further evaluating this fight, as the thought alone is making me sleepy.

    Chiesa, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald

    I have no idea why this fight was chosen to open the main card, particularly when Masvidal vs. Khabilov is a can’t-miss affair. At the risk of sounding cruel, neither fighter would look out of place in the late '90s, as both could most charitably be described as “specialists.” Look for this to turn into a middling kickboxing contest if they cancel out each other’s grappling.

    Chiesa, Unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    Both of these lightweights are going to be looking for the takedown right away. Chiesa is the more well-rounded fighter, but Smith is the more relentless wrestler, which should be the determining factor in this matchup. While Chiesa's a dangerous opponent for most to go to the ground with, Smith has never been submitted, so he should be able to grind out a decision win.

    Smith, Unanimous decision

     

    Craig Amos

    Both fighters are very good wrestlers, but that's more or less where it ends for Smith. Not so for Chiesa, who has demonstrated an advanced submission game in the past, and who looked improved on the feet last time out before Jorge Masvidal got the better of him.

    Chiesa, Unanimous decision

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